5 Easy Ways to Avoid Common Interview Mistakes

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wrong or right ethical questionThe interview process is not black and white for any industry, but interviewing in healthcare is especially complex. Multiple facilities, a wide range of positions to fill, three shifts, strict HR compliance regulations, high turnover, and common interview mistakes are just some of the factors that contribute to the challenging world of hiring in healthcare.

To thrive, healthcare organizations must consistently hire top talent — doctors, nurses, and other staff members who are service-oriented and capable of helping organizations satisfy their distinct and critical mission. To do so, healthcare HR professionals need to make sure their recruitment process is as efficient and effective as possible to avoid common interview mistakes.

We interviewed a number of healthcare talent acquisition professionals and have identified the five common interviewing mistakes that prevent healthcare organizations from hiring the best person for the job:

1.  Undefined job expectations

Failing to define what characteristics you’re seeking makes it impossible to come up with appropriate screening and interviewing questions. Do your homework before you create the job description to avoid vagueness.

2.  Ignoring the rules

Ignoring the interview guide and hiring a candidate based on a “gut” feeling can be a mistake. “We found that ignoring behavioral assessment results during the interview process leads to bad hires. You only make that mistake once, and then you learn,” said Anne St. John, Director of Organizational Development and Training at MemorialCare Health System in California. A gut feeling is important and shouldn’t be completely ignored, but make sure you implement a structured interview guide at the same time for consistency.  In addition to using healthcare-specific behavioral assessments to ensure you’re evaluating for cultural fit, don’t overlook the importance of  reference checking!

While there is no official “rule” about having to conduct reference checks in healthcare to investigate a candidate’s previous professional experience, it would behoove you to do so regardless. The traditional phone-based method of checking references is labor-intensive and often not very productive — but ignoring the “unspoken rule” of conducting a candidate reference checks is not in your best interest. Think about it, no one has  better insight into a candidate’s past job performance than their former colleagues. However, there’s a better way to conduct reference checks that will save the  talent acquisition time, while also garnering better quality, thoughtful candidate references. By leveraging the power of  behavioral science and confidential multi-rater surveys through the use of an automated reference checking solution, your healthcare organization will streamline the entire reference checking process—saving time, while also improving hiring results by getting candid views of your final candidates.

3.  Lack of education

Many organizations roll out methodologies like behavioral interviewing but don’t support their implementation through proper training. This is particularly problematic with team interviews. Always rely on transparency throughout the process and provide training for hiring managers and interviewing teams on how to use behavioral interview guides.

4.  Naivety

Given the tremendous growth in healthcare needs, many people are seeking healthcare careers simply because they see the field as a source of job security. Don’t fall for the “I want to get into healthcare to help people” response. According to Patty McNary, Recruiter at CentraCare Health System in St. Cloud, Minnesota, “HealthcareSource Staff Assessment results are helpful in assessing whether an applicant is willing to do the things most commonly found in a healthcare environment, such as 24/7 coverage, or being around people who are sick. People who have not worked in healthcare before aren’t always aware of what they are getting into or what the expectations are.” To thrive in a service-based industry and competitive market, healthcare organizations need to focus on hiring customer-oriented individuals who also have the competencies to succeed — not just the desiree.

5.  Talking too much

You shouldn’t spend more time speaking than the person you’re interviewing. Hiring a candidate when the interviewer does most of the talking can lead to inadequate hires. Make sure you’re selling and not telling during the interview—because that is likely another one of the very common interview mistakes that often turn candidates off from accepting a job offer.


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Are you interested in learning more about how you can improve the interview process at your healthcare organization and avoid common interview mistakes? Download our free educational white paper titled:

Improving the Interview Process: 6 Strategies for Healthcare HR and Talent Acquisition Professionals

In this white paper, we share six strategies for healthcare HR and talent acquisition professionals to consider adopting to improve their healthcare organization’s recruitment process.

About The Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff is a team of writers with a passion for helping healthcare organizations manage their biggest and most important investment: their employees.